Five Columbia High wrestlers will be giving it their best shots at qualifying for the state Class 1A tournaments during Southwest Regional meets this Saturday.
Leading CHS wrestlers into action at the boys meet at Castle Rock High School will be recently crowned SWW 1A Trico Division champions Kevin Kreps (sr., 145 pounds) and Seth Bell (sr.,189). They'll be joined there by top-five finishers Luis Roque (sr., 4th at 140), Leo Torres (fr., 3rd at 112) and Jim Price (sr., 5th at 171; alternate to regionals).
Representing Columbia in the girls meet in Elma will be freshman Sarah Gibson, who'll wrestle at 135 pounds under volunteer coach Rick Freil.
At the regional meets, the top-four wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes will move on to the state tournament, which is set for Feb. 20-21 in the Tacoma Dome.
Bruins Coach Stoner Bell expressed excitement at how well CHS wrestlers performed at the sub-regional meets, which included competitors from Trico regular-season champion Castle Rock, Ilwaco, Kalama, La Center and Stevenson.
"To have two first-place wrestlers at sub-regionals is a first for CHS, I believe," said Bruins Coach Stoner Bell, who walked away from last Saturday's regional qualifier at Kalama High School feeling a mixture of excitement and disappointment.
The disappointment came when three Columbia wrestlers--junior Jenson Ladiges (160), junior Ben Ward (215) and sophomore Connor Warner (152)--were disqualified before the start of the competition because each had a minor skin condition. (Junior heavyweight Pedro Wright also didn't wrestle last Saturday because of health-related issues.)
Ladiges, in particular, would have advanced automatically as his weight class had only three other wrestlers due to no-shows and disqualifications, according to his coach.
"Jenson should have taken first or second," while "Ben and Connor both had a chance of advancing," Bell said, adding, "All of them probably would have earned points for the team."
Also competing for CHS at the Trico tournament were sophomore Gage Miller, 6th at 145; sophomore Joshua Bell, 6th at 171; junior Devin Bulick at 215, and sophomore Zack Mart at 152.
Columbia finished sixth in the six-team meet--won handily by Castle Rock--with 81 points.
Columbia and Stevenson each had two individual champions--tied for second-most--while Castle Rock won eight weight classes and took second in three others at the sub-regional meet...
Weigh-ins on Saturday begin at 8 a.m. at both venues; wrestling in Castle Rock commences at 10, with competition in Elma starting at 11.